Her love of the north country is evident when she says, "The first time I laid eyes on the Bering Sea, I knew I was gifted...." And of the weeks of winter darkness she says, "...if you've ever seen a full moon on the snow or Alpine Glow on Denali, you know it's worth it." She credits the darkness as perhaps accounting for the abundant attendance at her basketry classes because folks have to keep busy and active during the winter months to avoid depression.
In addition to traditional baskets, Jill's speciality is antler baskets.
Jill's baskets incorporate the antlers of Columbia black tail, Sitka, mule and white tail deer and are sometimes embellished with antler tips, tin cones, and buttons. Some include local natural fibers such as salmon skin and horsetail.
Jill says she likes to incorporate sight, sound and motion into her baskets. She studies each antler for oddities, imperfections or flows and then weaves around to the best points to creaste a basket that "looks like a natural extension of the antler." Weaving comes naturally to Jill, and she finds it "meditative and calming." Being largely self-taught, Jill extends an invitation to any instructors willing to travel north to come to visit Alaska and teach basketry.
Now a full-time wife and mother, Jill teaches from her log home and markets her basketry through fine art galleries and gift shops throughout the country. In September, through a grant earned from the Alaska Council on the Arts, she traveled to NY to attend a willow basketry course hosted by Joe Hogan of Ireland. A whole new world of basketry opened up to Jill and now she dreams of attending a basketry school or festival in Europe.
The picture on the left is Canadian "Ankaret Dean" working on her belly linen basket. The stand alone basket is Jill's version of the belly linen basket. She says, "I had to slim mine down to get it on the airplane.
Jill operates her own business, Backwoods Basketry at Talkeetna, AK near Denali National Park in close proximity to Mt. McKinley. You can see more of Jill's beautiful baskets at Jill Choate Basketry.
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